It's always challenging being a woman and entering a predominantly male profession. But it's even more challenging when you're a woman of color entering those industries, like the tech industry.
According to recent studies, women only hold 26.7% of tech jobs in the booming industry. That number is lower than that of their male counterparts, who still have a significant grasp of the industry, especially in leadership roles.
However, this is slowly changing as we see more and more women of color enter the tech field, with some rising to C-suite positions over time. With this change comes one question: how can we make sure this improvement becomes permanent instead of temporary?
In today's blog, we'll explore the obstacles women of color face in technology and how they can overcome these challenges to make their mark in the tech industry visibly known for generations.
The Diversity Issue
One of the main reasons for the underrepresentation of women of color in the tech industry is the need for more diversity in the pipeline.
Women of color are often underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, which are the primary feeder into the tech industry. This is due to many reasons, including a lack of role models, access to resources and opportunities, and cultural biases that discourage women of color from pursuing careers in STEM.
There is a need for better investments in programs and initiatives that support women of color in STEM fields to address these challenges. This includes providing access to resources, opportunities, and mentorship programs and promoting and valuing the contributions of women of color in the tech industry altogether.
What will also help is businesses within the tech industry changing their current definition of "diversity" in the workplace. Diversity means more than just adding more people of color to their team; it also means listening to them and considering their insight on various ideas.
Once women of color enter the tech industry, they often face additional challenges and barriers, including discrimination, bias, and a lack of opportunities for advancement - all because of their gender and skin color.
Women of color are also often subject to microaggressions and tokenism, further undermining their confidence and sense of belonging in the industry.
To address these challenges, tech companies need to create inclusive and supportive environments that recognize and value the contributions of women of color. This can include mentorship programs, diversity and inclusion training, and support groups for women of color.
Additionally, tech companies can work to create policies and practices that support women of color in their careers, such as flexible work arrangements, equal pay, and opportunities for advancement.
Another important aspect of breaking down barriers for women of color in the tech industry is increasing their visibility and representation in leadership positions.
Despite being highly skilled and qualified, women of color often face discrimination and bias regarding promotions and leadership opportunities. This is partly due to their persistent and systemic barriers and lack of diversity in decision-making roles.
To increase the representation of women of color in leadership positions, tech companies can implement practices such as diverse hiring, diverse representation on hiring committees, and unconscious bias training for managers and executives.
Also, companies can work to ensure that their leadership teams reflect the diversity of their employees and customers and create opportunities for women of color to take on leadership roles.
Committing to a More Inviting Work Environment
Finally, it's essential to recognize that breaking down barriers for women of color in the tech industry requires sustained effort and commitment from everyone involved. This includes companies, organizations, and individuals working together to create a more inclusive and diverse industry.
It also requires a willingness to challenge and change the status quo and to prioritize the needs and experiences of women of color.
This action may involve doing an audit of the current practices within the business, addressing any issues that may prevent women of color from feeling included, and setting up better rules to prevent this issue from occurring again.
In conclusion, breaking down barriers for women of color in the tech industry requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the root causes of underrepresentation and discrimination.
This includes investing in programs and initiatives that support women of color in STEM fields, creating inclusive and supportive environments in the workplace, increasing representation in leadership positions, and committing to sustained effort and change.
Working together to create a more diverse and inclusive tech industry can help more women of color feel encouraged and included in the tech spaces. When that happens, we will see a shift in the industry that will only lead to more opportunities for women of color they couldn't envision beforehand.
To learn more about how Odihi is helping women of color break barriers in various life and career fields, check out our website here.